The Dorian Scale is widely used in Pop, Jazz, Rock, and Folk musics.  Listen to a few examples to familiarize yourself with the darkish, minorish, sometimes jazzy character of Dorian tonality… 

The Dorian Scale in Action

Simon and Garfunkel “Scarborough Fair” in the key of E…

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The Doors “Riders on the Storm” in the key of E…

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Frank Improv Vamp in the key of Bb…

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Miles Davis “So What” in the key of D…

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Other noteworthy examples include: Carol King “Too Late”, “Santana “Evil Ways”, John Coltrane “Favorite Things”, Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth”


C Dorian Scale: Notation & Keyboard Layout…

Notice that the notes in the C Dorian Scale are the same as the C Mixolydian scale with one exception: Eb (Me) instead of E (Mi). Thus, it may be useful to think of the Dorian Scale as the minor version of the Mixolydian scale.

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Comparative Ear Training Tip: Play and sing the Dorian and Mixolydian scales side-by-side, slowly enough to hear the very distinct difference. Just as E (Mi) gives the Mixolydian scale a major flavor, the Eb (Me) is gives the Dorian scale a minor flavor.


Solfege Ear Training

Reading and singing the Solfege syllables out loud is a very effective way to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in a musical scale.  Here are are some suggested patterns for doing so…

C Dorian Scale: Linear

Ascending…

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Descending…

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C Dorian Scale: Do-X-Do

Ascending…

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Descending…

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Tip: Many other patterns are possible as well, but at this point your time is better spent going right to the kinds of music that YOU want to play for your study-practice material.

4 Comments

  • This is slightly baffling to me!! should I learn this by heart or just look and play and sing… and what does it ‘mean’…? probably dim question!

    • Thanks so much for asking, Paula. Such a question is not dim in the least. In fact, it is an essential part of me getting to know the Piano-ology audience… so that I can learn how to more effectively present material. That said, your questions prompted two things: First, that I should explain in the intro to this lesson WHY the Dorian Scale matters (It is used extensively in Folk, Pop, Jazz, and Rock). Noteworthy examples: Carol King “Too Late”, Simon and Garfunkel “Scarborough Fair”, “Santana “Evil Ways”, Miles Davis “So What”, The Doors “Riders on the Storm”. Second, that I should upload an audio file that models how to do the ear training studies. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and generous engagement, Paula. You are already having quite a positive influence on how Piano-ology is unfolding. Cheers!

      • Thank you, Frank for your prompt reply.I had in the meantime looked up the scale on the internet and I understand now..I deduct from that that, for me as an absolute beginner…it is just as well to leave that kind of stuff for now and stick to getting to know the keys by name and putting name , piano key and dot on line together …and stick to doing fluent hand movements along the scale …I do so much see that it is crucial to get the basics right before progressing . Your Piano-ology is progressing amazingly well, is going to be a great success, I bet. Must be quite difficult to make sure it does not become an unwieldy giant though…pffft. Thank you again.

        • Yes, it’s mostly about seeing the dots, letter names, scale degrees, solfege syllables all as important ways of conceiving the same musical stuff. And to start internalizing the associated sound-feelings, too. And thanks so much for the vote of confidence, Paula!

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